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Sweet Pumpkin

I usually make so many things that involve pumpkin that by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, I have no desire for pumpkin pie at all.  This year between moving and unpacking I didn’t really get a chance to make much with pumpkin, so I was actually looking forward to having a pumpkin dessert at Thanksgiving.  I already had an apple pie in the freezer, a sweet potato pie on the menu, and a guest volunteering to bring a chocolate pecan pie so I didn’t think another pie was the best idea.  For whatever reason, no other pumpkin desserts were really appealing to me until I stumbled on these honey pumpkin bars.

Strangely enough, they’re a lot like pumpkin pie but without making a pie crust.  The oatmeal crust for these is great and really holds the creamy pumpkin custard together.  I was worried that all of the honey in these was going to make for an overly sweet dessert, but that wasn’t the case at all.  Originally, the recipe called for these to be garnished with candy pumpkins, and I skipped that because even though these aren’t overly sweet, they are sweet enough without the candy on top.  I do recommend topping these with some fresh whipped cream as suggested in the original- whipped cream makes everything better.

Honey Pumpkin Dessert Squares

Ingredients:

for the crust:

  • 1 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1 C. quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 C. butter, softened
  • 1/4 C. packed brown sugar

for the filling:

  • 2 cans (15 oz each) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 C. half-and-half
  • 1 C. honey
  • 3/4 C. packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, mix all crust ingredients with fork until crumbly.

Press the mixture into the bottom of  an ungreased 13×9-inch pan.

Bake 10 minutes.

While the crust is baking,  beat all filling ingredients with wire whisk or electric mixer on medium speed until blended.

Pour the pumpkin mixture over the partially baked crust.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until set and knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool completely, about 40 minutes, before cutting.

Optional: top with whipped cream and/or a candy pumpkin.

Makes 16 servings.

Source: adapted from Pillsbury

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Full House

Thanksgiving dinner for fifteen guests doesn’t have me rattled at all.  What has me rattled (and M.I.A.) of late is cleaning up the house for fifteen guests. Before you think I live in a home that could be featured on Hoarders, let me clarify.  It’s not a secret that Lane was married before he met me, and Lane still lives in the house that he once lived in with his ex-wife.  Over time stuff accumulates, even when one party moves out and takes stuff with them.  Even with just Lane and two kids, there was a lot of stuff .  Then I moved in, and despite having pared down considerably, I have stuff.  So all of this stuff had to go somewhere.  I’m also not a fan of the “throw it all in the basement! Bury it all under a bed! Company’s coming!” mentality, so the only option was to really sort it out, clean it up and pare down.  This project started as us having the idea that we’d use the now-empty living room as a sorting area for things we want to donate or relocate to elsewhere in the house and we decided we wouldn’t hurry to empty the living room until after the holidays.  Then we decided to invite fifteen people over for Thanksgiving.

Lane works at a real job (with an office and everything) all day while I work from home (typically in my slippers, at my leisure) so it was really on me to get the house together.  To be fair Lane has handled all matters concerning paint, vehicle maintenance, lawn maintenance, building and moving furniture and organizing the basement, so I’m not alone in this.  Lane also listens to me screech about how much stuff there is, and how no one needs this much stuff, and how we need to get rid of stuff.  He’s a champ- other men might have tossed me out into that foot of snow that fell last week.  Even though the house isn’t completely done- we have to decide what to put on the walls, pick out some curtains, and decide once and for all on some furniture items, it feels like home.  We’re really looking forward to opening our home to our families and friends, and we’re thankful for them.  After all, if they weren’t coming, I’d still have a living room full of  junk  things to sort.

As part of the cleanup, I’ve found old photos and such.  One of the things I found was a memory card, with a picture of this pumpkin tart on it.  When I made the tart, it was for Thanksgiving dinner with my mother last year.  We decided we’d had enough of regular pumpkin pie, and I decided a gingerbread crust would liven it up, and it did.  This tart was fantastic, and I’m considering making it again for this year’s dinner.  It’s really easy to make, and with some whipped cream on top, it’s a dessert you don’t forget.  Even when the photo is on a memory card at the bottom of a box buried in the living room.

Gingerbread Pumpkin Tart

Ingredients:

for the crust:

  • 2 1/2 C. gingersnap crumbs (about 40 gingersnap cookies, ground into crumbs)
  • 1/2 C. packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 stick butter, melted

for the filling:

  • 15 oz. can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3/4 C. sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the gingersnap crumbs, brown sugar, flour, and salt.

Add the butter and stir until completely combined.

Press some of the mixture against the side of the bowl with your fingers, if it doesn’t hold together, add cold water, 1 teaspoon at a time up to a maximum of 1 tablespoon, and stir to combine.

Press the mixture into the bottom and sides of a tart pan, evenly covering the bottom and coming up to the top of the sides of the pan.

Place the tart pan in the freezer and chill for 10 minutes.

Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake until the crust is set, about 10 minutes.

Transfer the tart pan to a wire cooling rack and let it cool completely before filling.

In a bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, condensed milk, egg yolks and salt until well blended.

Pour the filling into the cooled crust (you may have extra filling, leave about 1/8″ at the top of the tart pan, do not fill all the way to the top).

Bake until set and beginning to brown on the top, about 30 minutes.

Remove the tart from the oven and cool to room temperature.

Chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving (chill until ready to serve).

To serve, carefully remove outer ring of tart pan, slice, and serve.

Makes 8 servings.

Source: crust:  Martha Stewart, filling: Claire Robinson

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The Seed 2.0

Yesterday, I promised you another way to season roasted pumpkin seeds.  While I like them with just some salt and olive oil, I do like to try out new ways of doing this, and I think this one is my favorite yet.  As I said in the basic roasted pumpkin seed post, the hard part is to get the seeds out of the pumpkin and sort out the pumpkin seeds from the pumpkin guts.  I usually just discard the pumpkin guts, but while researching what the more technical term for pumpkin guts is, I did stumble upon a recipe for pumpkin gut bread.  Once you’ve separated the seeds from the guts, the sky’s the limit as far as roasting them and adding some flavor.  Lane is angling for some Sriracha pumpkin seeds and that might happen, considering I still have two pumpkins to deal with.  For now, I made a garlic and Worcestershire sauce  variety and they are fantastic.

Garlic and Worcestershire Sauce Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients: 

  • 2 C. dry fresh pumpkin seeds
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 Tsp. olive oil

Directions:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic.

Add the pumpkin seeds and toss to coat.

Spread the pumpkin seeds out onto the lined baking sheet.

Bake for 10-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes and watching carefully to ensure they don’t burn.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before storing in an air tight container.

Makes 2 cups.

Source: Diana Dishes original

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Pumpkin Seeds

Happy Halloween to all of my readers!  If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that Halloween is a pretty big day for me.  Tonight we will have dumb supper and take a moment to honor the spirits of our departed loved ones.  Trick-or-treating has been cancelled or postponed in a lot of towns around here due to hurricane damage.  However you choose to celebrate, please do so in a manner that’s safe for everyone involved.

In the middle of our hustle to prepare for the hurricane, we did take some time to obtain and carve pumpkins with the kids. At our trip to the Sunflower Farm in Orange, the farmer told us to have the kids each pick out a small pumpkin for free on their way out.  This meant that in total, we had six pumpkins to play with.  We only carved four of the six, but that yielded plenty of pumpkin seeds.  Roasted pumpkin seeds are, I suspect, the only reason Lane entertained my demand to go to a pumpkin farm while we were getting ready for a hurricane.  The kids had a great time scooping out and carving their pumpkins.

Once you scoop the guts out of the pumpkin and separate the seeds, roasting the seeds is easy.  If you have kids around, this is a great way to get them to perform child labor help in the kitchen.  M and O didn’t have any qualms about sticking their hands in pumpkin guts and pulling the seeds out for me.  If you don’t have kids to do the labor, it’s not so bad to have to do it yourself.  No matter how carefully you remove the seeds, you’re bound to have some pumpkin guts stuck to them.  Put all of the seeds in a large bowl of water and let them sit for a few minutes.  The pumpkin guts will fall to the bottom, the seeds will float.  I lay my seeds out to dry before I start roasting them, which can take a while so plan ahead.  In a pinch, I’ve aimed a hair dryer at them to dry them out a little quicker and it works great (even if it results in people staring at you like you’re a crazy person).  Roasted pumpkin seeds lend themselves to a lot of different flavors.  A sprinkle of salt is usually my favorite way to do this, but I did try another flavor this year and it was great (and I’ll share that tomorrow- today, just the basics!).  A sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar is nice if you’re looking for a sweet treat, there’s no rule that says this can only be a savory snack.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients:

  • 2 C. fresh pumpkin seeds
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • 1-4 tsp. olive oil

Directions:

Ensure pumpkin seeds are dry before starting. Leave them out on baking sheets in a single layer to dry.  Alternately, you can heat the oven to 150 degrees, lay the pumpkin seeds out in a single layer on baking sheets and place them into the oven, stirring every ten minutes, until they’re dry.  Or, you can use a hair dryer on the low setting (yes, I’m serious).

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the pumpkin seeds in a bowl and toss with enough olive oil to lightly coat them (start with 1-2 tsp. and add more if needed).

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the seeds out in a single layer on the lined baking sheet.

Sprinkle the seeds with salt.

Bake for 10-40 minutes, using a spatula to stir and turn the seeds every 10 minutes.  Watch them carefully so they don’t burn.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool before storing in air tight containers.

Makes 2 cups.

Source: Diana Dishes original

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Time With You

The fifth movie in the 12 Days of Oscar series is My Big Fat Greek Wedding. The 2002 sleeper hit features Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos), a thirty-year-old Greek woman.  After starting college courses and a mini-makeover, Toula meets and falls in love with Ian Miller (John Corbett). Toula’s family initially protests because Ian is not Greek, but eventually Ian learns to accept Toula’s large Greek family, and they accept Ian. My Big Fat Greek Wedding was nominated for Best Screenwriting, Original Screenplay (but lost to Talk to Her).

In one scene Ian’s family, the Millers, come to dinner at Toula’s, where the entire Portokalos family is present. Mrs. Miller presents Mrs. Portokalos with a dessert, telling her it’s a bundt cake.  Mrs. Portokalos struggles with the word bundt, eventually proclaims “It’s a cake, I know,” and tells a guest “There’s a hole in this cake.” Later during the party, she brings the bundt cake out, and has put a flower pot in the center of it. A guest exclaims “You fixed the cake!”  So it seemed fitting that a bundt cake would represent this movie.

This is so simple, it’s almost embarrassing to call it a recipe.  It’s a trick I learned years ago to keep the fat and calories of dessert down, and even though I don’t love boxed cake mix, I do love the convenience from time to time. When I tell people about this, they usually look at me in disbelief that you can make a boxed cake mix without eggs or oil. The result is a dense, moist cake that’s every bit as good as one made with eggs and oil.  I promise, you won’t miss the oil.  I made these in my mini bundt cake pan, but you could mix the batter and make cupcakes, or a sheet cake, or a regular size bundt cake.  Just adjust the cooking time according to the directions on the box. This works really well with a box of chocolate cake mix as well.

 

Pumpkin Spice Mini Bundt Cakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
  • 1 box (around 18.25 oz) spice cake mix (I used Betty Crocker)

Directions:

Preheat oven to to 325 degrees.

Spray the cavities of a mini bundt cake pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Mix the cake mix with the can of pumpkin puree.

Fill the cavities of the prepared pan 2/3 full with batter.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the center of a cake comes out clean.

Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes, then place the cakes on a cooling rack.

To make the glaze, mix one cup of powdered sugar with 1 tsp. of vanilla extract and 3 Tbs. milk.  Drizzle over cooled cakes.

Makes approximately 14 mini bundt cakes.

 

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Autumn Song

I had the most fantastic weekend.  It started with mojitos Thursday night with the girls, and is about to end with drinks and a cover band with some good friends. Busy, busy, busy, and it’s back to work tomorrow.  Sigh.

I did promise some people at work that I would finally get around to making a pumpkin baked good this weekend, so I’m glad I was able to take some time to make good on that promise.  I’m sure they’ll agree the wait was worth it when I bring in these pumpkin whoopie pies.  The only thing I changed from the original recipe was to add some nutmeg, and I thought that worked out well.  The recipe was pretty straightforward, so these were much easier to make than I had anticipated.  Of course, the final result was even better than I anticipated, so this was a win.

whoopiepie

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Ingredients:

for the pumpkin whoopie cookies:

  • 3 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 Tbs. ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbs. ground ginger
  • 1 Tbs. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 C. firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 C. vegetable oil
  • 3 C. pumpkin puree, chilled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

for the cream cheese filling:

  • 3 C. confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 C. (one stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and ginger.  Set aside.

In a separate large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and oil until combined.  Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine.  Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined.

Sprinkle the flour mixture over the pumpkin mixture and whisk to combine.

Drop the batter by rounded Tablespoons onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper or a baking mat (it is preferable to use a scoop with a release mechanism for this step).

Bake for 15 minutes, until the cookies just start to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cookie comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely on baking sheets.

Make the filling by putting the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until smooth.  Add the cream cheese and beat to combine.  Sift the powdered sugar into a medium bowl, and then add to the cream cheese mixture.  Beat to combine.  Beat in the vanilla.  Transfer the filling to a pastry bag, and snip off the corner.

To assemble the whoopie pies, pipe the filling onto the flat surface of half of the cookies, making a large dollop.  Top each filled half with another cookie, pressing down to spread the filling to the edges.  Chill for 30 minutes before serving, or up to 3 days.

Source: Martha Stewart

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